This project was a qualitative exploration into the lives of college seniors currently in romantic relationships. Participants included 11 committed, heterosexual couples (22 participants in total) from schools in the Northeast. In each couple, at least one member was a senior in college at the time of participation. Participants were interviewed separately and asked a protocol of questions regarding their relationships and post-graduate plans. No initial hypotheses were established. Instead, the interviews were transcribed and emergent themes and patterns were identified through a grounded analysis of the interviews. Ultimately, a conceptualization emerged from the previously identified patterns and themes, and the participants were categorized along it. The conceptualization captured the divide among participants in where they anchored their source of stability as they tried to navigate their futures. Some participants put their anchors in their relationships and other participants put their anchors in their future career paths and individual exploration. This divide was further explored along the factors that influenced the participants’ placing of the anchors, including: gender, external forces (e.g., family and society), and the participants’ sense of a personal identity formation. Ultimately, this project served as an exploration into the experiences of young adults in romantic relationships on the verge of a major transition, and it attempted to discover how they balanced individual identity development and relational wellbeing considering that at times the two endeavors compete with each other.
Waksman, Noam, "Love in the Time of Graduation: Exploring the Identity Development of College Seniors in Romantic Relationships" (2015). Psychology Honors Papers. 53.
The views expressed in this paper are solely those of the author.